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21 Feb 2017

WhatsApp exam cheats busted

The building in Palamau town, housing Lakshya coaching centre, that was raided on Monday. Telegraph picture
TT, Ranchi, Feb. 20: A thriving interstate racket designed to help students cheat in exams using WhatsApp under the guise of a coaching centre was busted in Palamau today, the subsequent arrest of six persons unravelling the potential of the world's most popular messaging app in ways perhaps not thought of by its founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton.
The six, including the director of coaching centre Lakshya and an intermediate examinee, were arrested in the western town, 180km from here, this morning for running the racket in Jharkhand, Bengal and Bihar for no less than five years.
From leaking questions and sending solved answers to special WhatsApp groups to setting up dummy candidates in competitive exam halls, Lakshya coaching centre achieved every target with remarkable aplomb and for fees ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh per person per test.
Acting on a tip-off from CID Special Branch, subdivisional officer (SDO) Nancy Sahay and local police raided the coaching school in Lawatoli in Palamau town around 11am and arrested director Ravi, his non-teaching staff and a student appearing for the ongoing Class XII examinations being held by Jharkhand Academic Council.
SDO Sahay said Lakshya was sealed and two more coaching centres were on their raid radar for running similar rackets. She, however, declined to name them yet.
"Today's raid was a major breakthrough. We have seized forged stamps/seals of top administrative officials, fake certificates and mobile phones used to run the illegal business," Sahay said.
Shedding light on how the racket operated, the SDO said candidates paid Lakshya to join its exclusive WhatsApp group.
"Next, they smuggled in cellphones into exam venues. Any one candidate/group member clicked pictures of question papers and forwarded it to the coaching centre mentors. Solved answers were then relayed back into the same group," the official said.
In short, a WhatsApp group was created for every exam - board or competitive - and Lakshya raked in lakhs in the process.
"We have even found evidence that the coaching centre supplied dummy candidates for SSC exams in Bihar, police recruitment exams in Bengal police exams and so on and so forth. At least six to seven calls came on the director's mobile phone while we were conducting the raids today," Sahay said.
The calls were from candidates in the middle of exams. "An intermediate examinee called from B.N. College in Hamidnagar (in Palamau district) and asked for answers, saying time was running out. We immediately traced the number and held the examinee," she said.
Besides its money-spinning exam racket, Lakshya was also involved in illegal admissions. "The centre issued fake certificates with forged stamps to those willing to pay their way into colleges. We have seized a diary and log book containing details of finances and clients. More raids are in the offing," the SDO added.

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